Mac and Me: Falling In, Out, and In Love Again with Apple

Ah, college.
(No, not that Mac and Me.)

Before I was a Mac user, I was into MS-DOS. My first PC was a Tandy 1000 with a 286 CPU and less than 1MB of RAM. It didn’t even have a hard drive.

During most of the 90s, my family couldn’t afford another computer, so I had to make do with the Tandy 1000 as best I could. I wrote a novella — my first! — on it, as well as countless school papers. We had a dot-matrix printer, so printing five pages took five minutes at least, more if there were graphics. (And woe unto you if your ribbon started running dry!)

Our finances improved around the same time that the iMac — the original gumdrop shaped model — was released, and I just had to have one. My parents splurged on it, with the condition that it was a “family” computer, and I couldn’t use it all the time. (That didn’t last long, as no one else knew how to use it very well.)

Going from DOS to Mac OS 8 was like trading in a Ford Model T for a 90s-era Volvo. Things were markedly better to use than before, but when you rode in your friends’ cars, you’d be struck by how differently their dashboards were laid out, or how the steering column didn’t have the same buttons yours did. Sure, you had a modern car, but it wasn’t like the ones everyone else drove.

And God, I loved that machine.

The love affair would last 17 years, up until a trial separation led me to wonder how much I still loved the Mac.
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Flash Fiction: “To Weather the Storm”

In lieu of a life update, I’ve decided to post a flash story. It’s an odd duck, not science fiction (no speculative elements) but not really lit fic either, so I’ve had trouble finding the right market. It was partly inspired by reading about this phenomenon in the wake of a hurricane. Enjoy!

The nursery chambers are flooding.

I march down the tunnels, trailing my sisters, other workers, following pheromones left by those fleeing from below. Danger, hurry, I smell, my antennae twitching. The air grows moist, the soil clinging to my legs in clumps that dwarf my tarsal claws.

A mass of tangled bodies, floating on the rising flood, blocks my path. These are more of my sisters, drowning, their pheromones shouting danger in sharp, acidic scents. I can smell cocooned workers and larvae dying below. I turn back, hurrying on my six legs into the chamber above before the waters reach me.
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I recently appeared on the podcast The First Run, co-hosted by my friend Chris Scalzo along with Matt Howell, to talk about Incredibles 2. Check it out here!

Do You Remember How to Fall? On Missing Aikido

I started taking Aikido in late 2011.

It’s the flow. I’ve always been attracted to martial arts, but Aikido is so unlike everything else that, like Tai Chi, it’s more of an art.

Part of me suspects I wanted to look and act like a Jedi. Not a bad reason, if you ask me.

So I found a local dojo, took an intro class, and was hooked. We had a great sensei, and the students were overall a good bunch. I kept going through a difficult breakup and terrible work stress.

Then, six months later, I just stopped, and I don’t know why exactly.
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I’m Not Right, But I Give A Damn

There’s a bee swarm of incoherent rage that’s been in my head the past week or two. The unconscionable separation and detainment of children by our administration, on top of the other abuses that we’ve endured since January 2017, is so mind-bogglingly enormous that it’s practically inconceivable.

It’s been a struggle continuing to live a mundane life — feeding Olly, going to work, having fun — while attempting to do something about our terrible government. It’s the knife’s edge of burnout, where doing too little (or nothing at all) is unethical, but doing too much will consume you and break your back. Until recently, my tactics were two: 1) fund orgs like the ACLU who challenge unconscionable actions, and 2) write my representatives when, ehem, encouragement is needed to do the right thing.
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Adventures in Post-Theology, Part 2: The Surprise Sequel

For all the fraught ambivalence over God I’ve wrestled with lately, it never occurred to me that I could just be a garden-variety Pantheist. I dismissed it outright in my last post on this subject, wondering whether I was really finding God when looking on nature, or just expressing wonder.

Well, how do things look from a Pantheist perspective, where God and the universe are the same?

I have something to pray to. It’s not hard to find, when you can step outside and feel the wind on your face. It’s impermanent, changing constantly. There are no theological gymnastics to jump through, but it’s also not the rabbit hole of woo that I’ve found new age traditions to be. It will never be at odds with science.

And accepting it, things just fall into place.

(Erik, you beloved dolt, overthinking things as always.)

Today’s Screw-Up: Unnecessary Food Restriction

(CW: diet)

Your mind can be your worst enemy sometimes.

My sole New Year’s Resolution for 2018 was not to enter restrictive diets solely for weight loss. I’d been having issues with yo-yo dieting for years, triggering vicious cycles triggered whenever I tried to get rid of something in my diet, be it bread, fish, whatever.

(I left the option open for calorie-tracking, since I don’t restrict certain foods when I do that, and my weight has been causing some health issues I need to keep track of.)

While my rational, conscious mind had no trouble keeping this, my subconscious was hard at work, looking for ways to find the One True Diet That Would Make Erik Sexy Again. (OTDTWMESA, if you will.)

Last week, it found a weak spot.
Continue reading Today’s Screw-Up: Unnecessary Food Restriction

A Brief Follow-Up

Edit: I’ve taken the post down.

Given this week’s mental health flare-up, perhaps adopting a strict diet wasn’t in my best interest.

I’m aiming for reducitarian, which in practice would mean “largely vegetarian, but probably no meat ever.” Also, no fur or leather, though wool is probably fine. Honey is probably okay, if it comes from local growers (bee die-off is complicated, and I need to do more research).

(See, this is why people like labels. Too many asterisks and they get angry.)

A Brief Post about Phone Anxiety

I heard recently on a project management podcast that millennials (that is, my generation) have higher rates of phone anxiety. It was mentioned in passing, but with the subtext that we young’uns just don’t know how to talk to people anymore.

So. Yes, I have phone anxiety. But I can tell you that I didn’t always have it, and the cause isn’t texting too much, or whatever the excuse de jour is.

You know who calls people nowadays? Telemarketers, robo-calls, collections, and scammers. I haven’t dealt with collections in a decade in a half, but the other three are rarely pleasant. My parents don’t call; they text.

In college, I called friends. I called family. I called the pizzeria if I wanted delivery. And generally speaking, it was pleasant most of the time. Phone trees didn’t suck like they do now.

While the proliferation of confrontational and malicious phone conversation is one aspect of why I hate using the damn thing, the second is a bad professional experience I had. I’ve changed and omitted some of the details of the following.

Imagine you’re at your desk, well into some task that requires most of your concentration, when the phone rings. When you get a call, you’re professionally obligated to answer, so you do. It’s a client. They’re mad, about to switch to a new provider, unless some little thing that broke is fixed right that second. This isn’t something you’ve worked on or are familiar with, but they absolutely insist, and you’re the only one who can take the call. So you muddle through, and they still complain to your supervisor.

Once? Frustrating, but you deal with it.

Constantly? Over years? Your adrenaline spikes when you hear a particular ring tone.

Now imagine this. You need a piece of information from a team of specialists. You know just enough to ask for what you want, but — because this isn’t your area of expertise — you occasionally slip up, misuse some jargon, etc. But unless you get the exchange just right, you won’t get what you need, and you’ll probably be ignored until you get your supervisor to ask again, less politely.

Maybe you start avoiding using the damn phone at all costs unless you’re reading from a script.

But no, I clearly have phone anxiety because I like emojis too damn much.